Booster: India starts giving free third Covid vaccine dose to adults

India has started giving free booster doses to all adults from Friday.

The drive will last 75 days to mark the 75th anniversary of the country's independence on 15 August.

Until now, only frontline workers, health workers and people above 60 years were eligible for free booster doses. Others had to pay for it.

The move comes days after India cut the gap between the second and third doses of the vaccine to six months from nine.

The announcement is expected to expand coverage of the booster dose - or precaution dose as India calls it - in the country.

The Hindustan Times newspaper reported on Thursday that 92% of Indians who were eligible for a booster dose haven't taken it yet.

India has administered 50 million booster doses so far, only around 5% of the eligible population.

The country began the booster dose programme in January for healthcare and frontline workers, and those above 60 years with comorbidities.

It later expanded the drive to all adults. A vaccine programme for 15- to 18-year-olds began in January, and for 12- to -14-year-olds in March.